Brief history:

In the beginning...

1665: The Paris Foreign Mission (MEP) establishes the Seminary of the Holy Angels in Ayuthia, Thailand, serving the regions of India, China, Japan and Thailand; the seminary is also known as the College General.

1808: The College General moves to Penang in Malaya.

1925: The steady increase in the Catholic population in Singapore leads to the establishment of St. Francis Xavier Minor Seminary in the grounds of Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Upper Serangoon. Seminarians spend the first four years of their formation here and then proceed to Penang College General for advanced training.

1960s-1970s: The political separation of Malaysia and Singapore makes it difficult for Singaporean seminarians to go to Penang College General for their final formation. The governments of Malaysia and Singapore impose quotas on foreign missionaries.

1983: The St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary is established by Archbishop Gregory Yong. It operates temporarily at the premises of the old Minor Seminary. Father Noel Chin is the first rector.

1988: On Jan 28 the new St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary at Ponggol Seventeenth Avenue is officially opened and blessed by Archbishop Gregory Yong (photo).

2007: The Major Seminary is affiliated to the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, the academic institution belonging to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

St Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) is the Patron Saint of the Major Seminary. He is also patron of all foreign missions.

As a young man, Francis joined St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Society of Jesus and sailed to India. For the next 10 years he laboured to bring the faith to such widely scattered peoples as the Indians, the Malayans and the Japanese.

Wherever he went, he lived with the poorest people, sharing their food and rough accommodation. He spent countless hours ministering to the sick and the poor, and particularly to lepers. Very often he had no time to eat or sleep but he was always filled with joy.

Francis came to Malaysia, then to Japan where he preached to both royal families and simple folks. He wanted to go to China but he died before reaching the mainland. He was canonized in 1622.

Why the seminary is important

The seminary and the church are inseparably joined.

From the church, young men are called by God to enter the seminary.

From the seminary, priests are formed to be another Christ to their community and to serve the church.

If there are no seminarians, there will be no priests and hence no Eucharist.

Diocesan Priest

Catholic priests in Singapore are either diocesan or religious (e.g. Redemptorists, Franciscans, Carmelites, Jesuits and Dominicans).
However, they share a common identity as "Alter Christus" (Another Christ) and exercise common ministerial functions.

Diocesan priests:

• Commit their lives to serving the people of God in a diocese (a geographic area under the jurisdiction of a bishop).

• Make promises of celibacy and obedience (whereas priests from the religious orders take an additional vow of poverty).

• Live a life like their parishioners’– they can buy their personal things and plan their own recreation.

• Render pastoral care to parishioners from cradle to grave, administer the sacraments, lead in prayer and worship, give faith and moral formation.

Patron saint of diocesan priests

The Curé of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, is the Patron Saint of diocesan priests. Through prayer, penance and works of charity, Father John Vianney transformed the French village of Ars from a rough and rowdy place with low church attendance to a pious village. He spent 16 to 18 hours in the confessional each day. He died in 1859 and was canonized in 1925.

"If we had no priest, we should not have the Lord in the Eucharist. What would be the use of a house full of gold, if you had nobody to open you the door! The priest has the key of the heavenly treasures."

– St. John Vianney

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